For decades now, Dirty Al’s has been a South Padre Island staple for both locals and out-of-towners alike. What started as a simple bait stand (yup…a bait stand) sprouted into a large, family enterprise that now includes 7 restaurants as well as a large wholesale seafood warehouse in Harlingen.
Beyond the fact that Dirty Al’s has established their hugely popular “Pelican Station” in Port Isabel, and have spread to numerous locations throughout the entire RGV, and are contributing to the region’s economy by providing nearly 500 local jobs (a big “cheers” to that), one of the Salazar’s proudest moments was when they decided to go against the grain and only serve wild caught brown shrimp.
Though it was a huge gamble, the Salazar family attributes their success to this decision, and is proud of serving shrimp caught straight out of the Gulf of Mexico. Even when there are alternatives of lesser price (but lower quality). Well…let’s just say it paid off!
So the moment you’ve been waiting for. Let’s get down to the “The Chow”.
You’ll find that Dirty Al’s is conveniently located just a few yards before the Isla Blanca Park entrance, but blink, and you just might miss it. And look. To be honest…if you’re into fancy silverware, dainty white tablecloths, and elegantly dressed garçons, then this is NOT the place for you. However. If all you care about is delicious, fresh from the boat seafood, well then…welcome home!
After our arrival, and a very short amount of time debating our choices, my friends and I decided on the House Favorites. We’re talking scrumptious deep fried shrimp, tantalizing blackened shrimp, and the obligatory side of freshly shucked oysters to recharge our batteries.
Surprisingly, even though the place was quite busy for a Tuesday lunch scene, the chum arrived promptly. Of course all the items looked delicious. The deep fried shrimp was perfectly crisp and not overly saturated in oil. In fact, the same goes for the amazing fries as well. But by far, my favorite dish was the meticulously seasoned blackened shrimp. It was splendidly spicy, skillfully oiled – as it should be – and o’so tasty. I believe these are traditional items that you can typically find at any seafood restaurant. But the truth is, nobody does it quite like Dirty Al’s. There’s something about the exquisite texture fresh seafood offers, alongside the tastiest of oils and spices, and that special Gulf Coast cooking know how that just can’t be beat.
All in all, this was a satisfying lunch to say the least. The staff was friendly, helpful, and it was easy to see that they actually loved working at Dirty Al’s.
But wait. Just a little insider tip between you and me. If you want to elevate your food game to a higher level, then be sure to request their special “secret sauce”. You won’t be disappointed.
And in case you were wondering. Yes. Dirty Al’s is still selling (frozen) bait 50 years after their humble beginnings.
‘Till next time – El Sancho.